Schooless and jobfree – Part 1

I have a new camera! I’ve decided to name it Hugh. I wasn’t paying tribute to Huge Jackman or something, but I tend to name my things the first name that I think of. Hugh fits! Hugh lives in a long stripey zebra sock.

View from my house in old-town Ang Mo Kio

The view from the window of my old house : Huey’s first landscape shot. Good job! This is the new view from my new window.

View from Hillbrooks

I’ve been moving house, it’s my favourite hobby. I used to be in the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio heart, and now I’m somewhere in the  Bukit Batok ear of Singapore. It’s not a half bad analogy. Orchard, as the stomach, digests all the retail and investments and tourism; Shenton Way, Clarke Quay – the digestive tract and liver. Indispensable, and collectively congested. Bukit Timah? Maybe the face of Singapore. Wealthier citizens and larger, more opulent houses, sort of like how you put make up on a face.

Travelling from the ear of Singapore is hard, and I’ve been complaining to all my tuition students about the commute from my house to theirs. Also, I’ve been insisting that my friends come up to my place, instead of me going down to the city area, for meet ups. Hugh and I have been meeting up with lots of people.

Mature folks :

Camp at SAFTI. Rabid mosquitoes.

More maturity:

Red Land!!!

No maturity: 

Kumar, Kumar, Kumar, Tong Kai, Jeevan acting cool, and Tong Kai. Ian and Gangwei were mature so they didn't make it into this photo.

The Weeny Tadpole. What do tadpoles grow into?

Littlebro, can you share your toy with bigbro? You're reading after all.


I’m learning German, so from now on I’ll randomly insert Deutsch in an effort to retain the new language. Ten days (Zehn Tag) till I leave! It’s been forever and a day since I left Malaysia for well and good and came back to Singapore, but in three years (drei Jahre), three years minus two days later, I’ll be leaving Singapore for the United States. I’m still vacillating somewhere around mid June (Juni), when I just found out that I actually would be going off. As in, off. To the land of liberty, guns, booze, bears, and everything inside and outside and in between. I’m still waiting for it to hit me that I’m going off so that I can start crying or jumping or something like that. My tear ducts have never been very cooperative… I cry when I’m not supposed to, like when I’m laughing about something retarded MJ has said.

Wilntyt : How are winters in the US going to be like?

MJ : Like, cold. The woman at the embassy said I’d be snowed in up to my chest!

Elven : But, lemme tell you, the air is damn sex!

MJ : Yeah, like you breathe in –whooo- and then you start orgasming! Like you imagine when it starts snowing and people everywhere start orgasming –

I laughed so much I that I had to use two hands (zwei Hand) to wipe my tears away. The lot of us from 3N (Shaunee, and wife 1 and 6 and Wilny) and an outsider (Au:slander) from 3O, Shu, visited my house (mein Haus), which is miles from the middle of nowhere. You see it’s at one end of the train station (der bahnoff!) and then, depending on a variety of factors, such as the stock market, the weather and my astrological signs, it’s another 20 minutes to an hour for the bus to get to my house.

This is when we had lunch at a restaurant. Hugh has a bit of an inferiority complex, you see how he focused especially on Shu’s huge ass camera? His screen displayed an erroneous message when I first switched him on : ‘memory card error. Format memory card : yes/no?’ Er… It took a few restarts before he could look at Shu’s camera in the eye without shorting out. Well Hughie, I’m afraid that size does matter where cameras are concerned, but I’m perfectly happy with you! If I had one the size of Shu’s, I’d probably leave you at home, and it’s better to be small and useful than be big and unused.

We got to my house after, and my houses all tend to be slack palaces. I have loads of innocent furniture, but that bean bag is just gobbling MJ up.

Das ist mein Raja! Ich liebe ihm.

So I checked back in a day (last photo), and yeah, Raja’s all that’s left.

The Tan family, Mom, Angel and Adora

Juxtaposition of heights. Love from the '95ers. Tomato Pokeball and Pikachu cheese.The Tan family, Mom, Angel and Adora

  This is Bio RA.


4th March

From now on 4th March shall always have a special significance to me, not just as the day of my Results Release but the day of flooding of encouragement, prayer, support, luck, well wishes etc etc from friends and family! Thank you all for everything, guys, I would have nothing and be nowhere without all of you.

I’d gone back to school early to pay my library fines – or risk having my results witheld, the sheer absurdity of it! Nevertheless I paid up the whole 1/5 of a dollar and banged out a bit of Nightwish on the off-key piano beside the amphitheatre. The school’s changed a lot in the past three months. New project rooms by the library, ceilings scraped and new floors put in, a covered walkway from the MRT station to the school gate, which was very useful indeed because I alighted into a rainstorm. There was a riotous whole cohort reunion in the canteen; incidentally, thank goodness our canteen is just ‘the canteen’, not fancy-named after a famous someone-or-other. I went in school uniform and explained to my batchmates that I was anticipating having to retain, which was partly true. For the larger part, though, I wanted the priceless feeling of youth again. While it was nice to see the girls mostly dressed up and the guys mostly trimmed down to bald-tan-buff army proportions…they all looked so mature and too ready to grow up. It’s not easy to earn money doing something you like…!

A banner had been strung up, proclaiming our batch’s “Very Fine” results, which we analysed for tone and connotations, and pessimistically took as a euphemism – an ill omen, given the circumstances. We then met our biology teacher who revealed that this year’s performance for biology had taken a turn for the worse…but she stopped there. I don’t know how in the name of Dandenong Sasafras Woolloowoolloo I could have kept mum about my students’ results when they’re all jittery and bugging me nonstop like we were.

What a very specialized set of skills teachers have to pick up.

The principals were all gathered, the teachers and parents all there to celebrate/grieve with us, the sheer noise – everyone was excited, and I’d become so numb with tension by then, I was almost relaxed. This stomach-dropping anxiety comes in spurts and leaves my emotions  little coagulated. So – the entire cohort singing the school song, enduring the stats and numbers and comparisons – knowing that they don’t mean anything about our individual reports, I’d forgotten my own trepidation and even when we were lining up by index number to get our reports I had sort of forgotten what I was suppose to be feeling or anticipating or…Gosh. I kinda just took the damn piece of paper and saw my grades and my teacher hugged me and I felt vaguely relieved. Then I sort of chanted my thanks and proceeded with the obligatory round of hi 5-ving and congratulations.

Thank God for everything. It feels stranged that having cut myself short of dreaming about today so many times, I finally sailed past the event without so much as a whoop. What’s more – for once, just for once, I’d like to know what I’m actually going to be doing by the end of this year. The endless long sickening wait for results and universities and scholarships is wearing me thin! Thin as spidersilk and frayed like a cobweb. I don’t even know which country I’ll be end up being in. So I give myself odd projects to do, though I used to want to slack relentlessly. But pokemon and Fire Emblem don’t satisfy me anymore. I suppose life’s like that, and in the meantime, I’ve found more to live for, more to worry about, more to fight for.

It’s my life, yeah it’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I’m alive

– A Bleach AMV to It’s My Life, by Bon Jovi.

This coupon entitles the bearer too …


Hence passes the big-ol’ be-all-and-end-all school term, leaving me, finally, after having suckerpunched some academic discipline and restrain into myself, living too much in the past and too little in the present. Glorifying yourself with fragments of old wealth, faded beauty, once-youth, long-ago-vitality, recollections strong enough to leave you breathless and insane, frantic with your own delusions, like Blanche Dubois. Like Anwell, like poor, frightened, pathetic Charles Kingshaw. My beloved psychedelic protagonists – to think that after I have dissected your motives and circumstances and served it up proudly on fresh, blank paper, I would end up like you – pitiful and neurotic! How present I was then. Imagine Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry making sense only after I no longer need it to. 


“The film is on a loop.
…You remember little things. Telling stories
or pretending to be strong. Mommy’s never wrong.”

Whoever She Was, by Carol Ann Duffy

You placate a sudden, restless emptiness with flotsam and jetsam inconsequential goals. Completing the Sinnoh-dex. Achieving maximum tactician stats. Re-reading character supports. You remember (or pretend to have known) love, lovers, loving, but really, it’s mostly just the little things. I don’t even know what they are, really. Uh : you-me-I -?- sounds schizoprenic even to your-my ears.

I don’t – I wish – I want I do – I came up with a whole family I’d love to have. A cross between the Russian and Irish wolfhound, called Taichou, or Tai (Ty) for short. A Belgian shepherd (groenendel), called Inferos, or Ros for short. A Norweigian terrier I want to call Shin, short for Shinpachi. An Afghan hound, named Khal Drogo, either Khal or Drogo for short. And a labrador retriever. I really only had one but once he’s gone, now I have five! Five. There they go again, beloved, multiplying all out of proportion. Rabid as Chuck Palaniuk’s Buster Rant Casey.

Hot damn, but talk about wickedly good covers and wickedly good books. I’m game for anything brutal and visceral as long as its well written, and while (normal) kids should stay away from Rant, adults could learn a bit or two from it.  Finding the guts to love Palaniuk’s books is something like cultivating an acquired taste – it’s a little trying to read beneath the gore and the fragmented narrative style. I’m more favourably inclined to Palaniuk’s book than this book reviewer; however, it is is a good summary and the criticisms are valid.   



After our pre-Chinese New Year gathering for Assisi Hospice

Wow – stocking mandarins on trees! An angbao (with a condom and a sleazy coupon, no less!) from the illustrious WifeEe and Wife#1! Thank you for the moments I’m too lost to remember.

Cold wind and clear sky. PS Wish You Were Here.

An element’s love letter

Dear Astatine my love,

I am writing to tell you that I can’t marry you. I’m breaking our engagement. I guess that you want to know why, so let me explain. I’ll start at the beginning.

It all started when I was born the daughter of Actinium-227 by alpha emission. I not only grew up unstable, but my psychiatrist recently diagnosed me as a paranoid schizophrenic and said that she had a problem telling my 20 isotopes apart. The sad truth is that 227/88Fr, my longest lived isotope, has a halflife of about 21 minutes, after which I decay into that awful 223/88Ra! And my 221/87Fr isotope has a halflife of only 4.8 minutes! So you see, there’s no use continuing our relationship when I won’t be around for long.

I was a quiet child. When my existence was finally discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey at the Curie Institute in Paris, I was thrilled! They named me Francium after the country in which I was discovered. They introduced me to my sisters Lithium, Sodium, Potassium, Rubidium and Caesium. Soon I learned that, as members of the Alkali Metal family, we had a lot in common. We all had a value of one, we tarnished in air, had low melting points and reacted vigorously with cold water. Not only that, we generally had soft crystals and were commonly found as halides and as aluminosilicates and combined vigorously with other elements.

Father said that the strong similarity between my sisters and me was the arrangements of the electrons in our atoms. Father always had an explanantion for everything. I asked him once why he liked Lithium best. He said that he loved us all equally and that I was only being my unstable self. But I kept bugging him, and finally he admitted that he liked Lithium best because she was used in the treatment of steel parts and was making something of her life. He said I had no meaningful purpose that he could see. Then he looked me up and down and grunted that I should do something about my atomic weight. I ran to my room in tears and looked in the mirror. My atomic weight was around 223, more than anyone else in my alkali metal family.

Astatine, I just can’t bear it! You saw how futile my attempts to diet were.

Sitting in the Earth’s crust the way I do in tiny amounts (never more than one gram), I have a lot of time to think. It isn’t so hard having a melting point of 27 degrees celcius, and my changes of phase add some excitement to my life. But something has been bothering me. Even though I was discovered more than 60 years ago, my sisters still leave me out of everything. The Alkali Metal family has always been famous, but nobody knows the real me! Why I remember that in Inorganic Chemistry, R.T. Sanderson said, “relatively little is known of this element except that a close resemblance to Caesium has been recognised.”

Caesium! He compared me with Caesium – my sister who hangs out in a mineral called Pollucite! No one would ever catch a weighable amount of me in that trash! I’m sorry – there I go being unstable again.

Did you hear that people are actually cloning me? It’s true! What they do is bombard Thorium with protons, and they’ve got some instant artificially made Francium! Neat isn’t it? Who knows? Maybe some day, good old atomic number 87 will find her niche in society and I will be accepted for what I am. But until then, I know we could never be right for each other.

Astatine, I’m really sorry. Please try to understand. I will always love you and will never forget our half-lives together.

Love Always,

Francium Alkali

*(From a worksheet in my chemistry file. I bear no responsibility for inaccuracy of information, incorrectness of grammar or any other flaw. Thank you.)

Oh, the wonderful teachers who do anything and everything to promote learning as it should be to us bratty little ingrates. I once had a teacher who rewarded my class with a trip to a Lord of the Rings exhibition. She taught science, but she knew the value of fantasy and imagination. Another chinese teacher of mine encouraged me to read by giving me –giving- me Chinese classics with wonderful illustrations. I still have the books. And another one once said :

“Now that I’m no longer your teacher, I don’t have to act appropriately in front of you! HA!”

To all who still see your teachers daily, do appreciate those relentless, determined, big-hearted imparters of knowledge and creativity, and remember them, whenever you can, in your prayers and thanksgiving.

 While I studied overseas for two years I requested from my ‘would-be’ teachers the materials my would-be classmates recieved, so that I might not suffer from gaps in different curriculums when I returned. My chemistry worksheets came to me in a ring-file, slotted into plastic folders according to date and topic, clipped very nicely together and labelled “for (my name)”. I supposed I was touched by the gesture but, I wasn’t one to dwell in this sort of thing then. I sort of took my good teachers for granted until I schooled at a place where dedicated teachers were the exception… I seem to be stockpiling fragments of memory alot these days, sitting around on the earth, like useless Francium like I do now, currently, approximately all the time – albeit in increasing amounts. 

Wherever these teachers are, I hope they remember all they have done for the students. I hope they know, somehow, that even those who no longer keep in contact do appreciate their efforts in years to come. I hope they never stop trying to do their best for their students. I hope…I suppose I ought to visit them and thank them. I don’t know why I dislike that idea. I only know that recalling the past is painful. To enter a world so vivid that you long endlessly after it, knowing it is forever in the past, is to lose the present moment. Yet one cannot relive the past if the past has not, in its own present, been fully lived.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby


Boat on a river 


Moving… … …

Moving, again.

I’m getting a little bit sick of it.
Someday I will find a place and I will know exactly that I’m going to die there, and I will go through all the countries and houses I have lived through and I will remember, really remember, how intensely heartbreaking it is to live with so undiluted an intensity that I could write a page on each moment and still say not enough.

…sometime it will be dark. I thought, Let them come unhouse me of this flesh, and pry this house apart. It was no shelter now, it only kept me here alone, and I would rather be with them, if only to see them, even if they turned away from me. If I could see my mother, it would not have to be her eyes, her hair. I would not need to touch her sleeve. There was no more the stoop of her high shoulders. The lake had taken that, I knew. It was so very long since the dark had swum her hair, and there was nothing more to dream of, but often she almost slipped through any door I saw from the side of my eye, and it was she, and not changed, and not perished. She was music I no longer heard, that rang in my mind, itself and nothing else, lost to all sense, but not perished, not perished. – Housekeeping, by Marilyn Robinson.

Behind my curtains 

Curtains remain close till evening time. They’re full length, three layers of them – the outermost is dark green, the second layer – my favourite – is a heavy, smooth, utilitarian grey which reflects heat and light. The last is a sheer gauzy wisp I’d like to go around lifting up swathes of secretive cloth just to look at what’s behind, underneath, and on the otherside.

It’s odd what I remember about my curtains.

NewHavenConneticut386ProspectStreetblockD : halflength,dusty,grey,windowblinds,viewofaplayground
SingaporeBlock90HillviewAvenueHillbrooks : halflength,blue,dolphinprint,viewoflandedpropertyandbukitbatokhill
KualaLumpurMalaysia258LorongMaarofTamanBandaraya : halflength,white,mosquitonets,terribleviewsallround…

Through windows go back, away, and up.

And up   
What, exactly, was B-16-1 New Hampshire, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia? 

Site of Lazing

one kuihbulu (on coffeetable)

 If you can’t come to Malaysia, Malaysia will come to you.

Site of Eating

Not that I spent a lot of time here and not that all of here was good. Yet better a few moments that last a lifetime than the untold countless others forgotten before remembering.

You old friend, who has seen me within and without though I know nothing but the general contour of you, dearest constant noiseless companion, keep my secrets in your walls and bind my memories to your shape.

“Farewell, farewell! Till your eyries recieve you at journey’s end.
May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks. ” – The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Absolute SlackPalace – Powerpuff Girls Monopoly

Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute SlackPalace Absolute

Absolutely slacking, like those overweight human blobs utterly dependent on their soda-dispensing-greasy-fries-serving-all-entertainment-constantly-provided cushion chairs in Wall-E. Abso-feckin’-ly slackin’. Like, I got no other way to describe it.

Chia as Blossom! The Number 1 leader!

Shao as Bubbles! The Joy and the Laughter!

Jeri as Buttercup! The Toughest Fighter!

Sumo as Mojo Jojo! Aaaaaaaannddddd………..

Sra Zei as Professor Oak X Utonium!

I totally owned at Powerpuff Girls Monopoly. Luck was on my side. And I already have the skill.

Jeri (Buttercup): Flowershop! Flowershop! Flowershop! Flowershop! I need to land on Flowershop!
Sra (Professor Utonium): You need to roll a 2 to get Flowershop, which is an even number…you won’t be able to buy it anyway!
Jeri  (Buttercup) : …ARGH!!
Chia (Blossom) : 5…6…7…oh, too late guys. I got the Flowershop!

Shao (Bubbles): Oh damnmit everywhere’s so dangerous…I should just stay in jail, safest place, since I don’t have property anyway! Free food free shelter… (rolls dice three times) nope, no doubles. Guess I’m still in jail then!
Sumo (MojoJojo): (lands on Just Visiting Jail, where Bubbles is jailed) … … oh, the irony! Hello, Bubbles!

Chia (Blossom): I’ll give you Bonsai Gardens if you’ll give me the PetStore and free access to all your green-coded properties.
Sra (Professor U): Don’t be stupid!
(A while later)
Sra (Prof U): Find, I’ll do it. Free access and PetStore for Bonsai Gardens.
(Some time later)
Chia (Blossom): Hello Sra! Nice to see you’ve built a house here!
Sra (Prof U) : = fume =
Chia (Blossom) : Wow, construction coming along very well! Two houses – three houses – Just swinging by!
Sra (Prof U) : = growl =
Shao (Bubbles) : Nooooooo!!! Shit Sra’s Green properties all damn dangerous. $900 on this and $975 on that! AAHHH!!
Chia (Blossom) : Hey, Sra! Just visitin…making loads of money I see!

Metamorphosis juvenile fiction – The Animorphs

This ambling, direction-less lifestyle I currently lead is perfect in that if one plan fails, I make another, no problem : nobody to inform and nobody to decide but me. This is good because I have an endless supply of  inbred inconsiderateness that enjoys being exercised. I also have the time and the money to make my  decisions. Malaysia means being chauffered around and cooked for, and being completely guiltless about guiltlessly enjoying life with my parents’ money. But Singapore means a suddenly sky high transport fare and my own meals. Merely five days here have left me feeling vaguely penniless.

I went to sleep last early morning (2am) planning to spend a day biking by the beach, going as far and as fast as I wanted to. But it was drizzling when I woke up, and the mostly elderly population of Ang Mo Kio, usually given to sitting or walking around the blocks to while away the time, had quit the grounds for shelter. The cool wind and rain received me like the sky the lone eagle. It’s quite flattering, and rather gratifying, to be the only person being drizzled upon.

In view of saving the busfare, I walked to Bishan Public Library, which was pleasingly empty. There was something else I’d promised myself : that I’d return to these bookhavens and read to my heart’s content when my A levels were over. RI’s library won’t read my student card anymore, so I shall turn to public resources, which are reasonably decent.

What in the world, though, does any library intend to do with one Animorph book? How is anyone supposed to get a story out of one book in a series of fifty-four! The Animorph series reads a little like Francis’s Mindfuck in that the science-fiction elements are immediately follow-able and that the characters, like Val Toreth, are unforgettable. Animorphs might be abrupt and cliched at times, with the ‘deadpan one liner’ style characteristic of teenage urban fiction, but somehow, given the gritty, underground element to this story, it’s fitting and believable.  

“We can’t tell you who we are. Or where we live. It’s too risky, and we’ve got to be careful. Really careful. So we don’t trust anyone. Because if they find us … well, we just won’t let them find us. The things you should know is that everyone is in really big trouble. Yeah. Even you.”

A desperately outnumbered resistance force against the advancing Yeerk empire, five kids, Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, Tobia, and one Andalite, Ax, have only two things on their side : anonymity, and the ability to morph into different animals. In spite of – or because of – the odds, they are hell bent on kicking ass, or on going down kicking ass. It is a kid’s book that’s exceptionally well crafted. Bar the appeal of morphing to any proper kid, and Animorphs is still highly enjoyable because the kids remain exactly that – kids. There is kid friendship, kid loyalty and kid bravado, and any regret, fear and anxiety is voiced but pushed aside, the way most kids do. The romances are minimal, bittersweet with the uncertainty of survival and the knowledge that their battle against the Yeerks comes first; no complicated love triangles (the Roswell series), no jarringly inappropriate ‘romantic developments’ (Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance trilogy has stellar examples of romance gone wrong) and no gratuitous declarations of love (Twilight). There is dissension, but ultimately they all remain loyal to Jake, accepting that his decisions are difficult and that he often has no choice. Very thankfully, there is no tiresome teenage squabbling (Harry Potter’s drearying malcontent), and no angst-riddled moralizing that often passes for ‘character development’.

Let kids be kids. All six Animorphs mature through the series, held together by a common understanding of the lives that they lead and the darkness they have had to face. I’d only read one book this time, but it was enough to remind me of a life that I’d forgotten how to live – one that is straighforward, focused, and above all, unrepentant.  Long live the Animorphs.